Kurdistan and Israel: A friendship that must come out in the open

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In a region where stability is rarely seen, the two non-Arab inhabitants of the Middle East – the Jews and the Kurds – need each other more than ever. Israel and Kurdistan share a deep history dominated by comradeship. Kurds must openly embrace their Jewish allies, and Israelis must publically call for a Kurdish state. Israel is a miniscule state that requires more friends than enemies if they wish to succeed.

For the Jews in the Middle East, it has always been a crime to exist, especially in a region where calling for the destruction of Israel is praised. We have witnessed this by internationally recognized states, by armed proxies, and by terrorist organizations. Israel is left without a choice but to defend itself, but the state must realize they have potential allies: The Kurds.

The Kurds have long been punished by the surrounding states of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran for praising Israel. The Kurds are largely Sunni Muslim, but a secular people that believe in coexistence between ethnic and religious minorities, unlike their neighbors. The Kurds have been victims of fascist regimes, Ba’athists, and genocide all under the calling of warmongering Arabs, Turks, and Fars who raise the Quran to ju`stify their actions. The Kurdish dream for an independent state is no longer a fantasy but a matter of practicality. The Kurds require political and militarily support in order to survive since they are landlocked. This support should be mutual not transactional; Kurds should not be used as pawns as we witness Turkey doing to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) currently.

Israel and Kurdistan have both common enemies and common interests. Both peoples are fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS), and both states see Hamas and Hizb’allah as threats to their existence. Both peoples fear that Iran’s attempt to dictate the region under its Shia proxies will equate to further conflict. Both fear that radical Islamic terrorism under the guise of political Islam, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, AKP party of Turkey, Sharia in Saudi Arabia and Iran will devastate the region as a whole.

Both Kurdistan and Israel can no longer afford to become victims, Kurds have a right to self-determination, and Israel deserves the right to co-exist with her neighbors. Israel must support Kurds in all regions of the four states mentioned, including the YPG in Syria, PKK in Turkey and PDK-I in Iran. Iran looks to build its Shia belt with or without Assad in power, the future of Syria will always include a dangerous Shia Iranian presence. It is in the interest of Israel to support a Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria. Openly supporting the YPG will publically announce the rejection of Iran reaching beyond its own borders.

In Turkey, the world has witnessed the pivot of current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaning towards Islamic authoritarianism, taking down any barriers to his rule. Turkey is certainly not a healthy ally to have, for any nation let alone Israel. Turkey is a state that openly bashes Israel and has shown support for Hamas. By supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a recognized Kurdish faction among millions of Kurds in southeast Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), it will push Erdogan to rethink his Islamic strategy for the country and the region all together. Politically supporting the PKK will also allow Israel to shape the future of the armed group into a natural ally. Israel’s support for the over 20 million Kurds in Turkey alone will establish a greater likening to the Jewish state that once was seen as traitors for assisting Turkey in capturing Abdullah Ocalan (PKK leader) in 1999. It is time for both the state of Israel and the PKK to mend ties as the situation in Turkey and the region has changed significantly.

In Iran, Israel’s greatest enemy, the country repeatedly faces threats from the Ayatollah and “moderate” political factions in the state. Kurds are well aware of Iran’s heinous crimes against humanity, they have been victims long before the fall of the Shah. Israel and Kurds in Iran can find common ground and construct a grand political and military strategy that will benefit both peoples.

Kurds from all regions would openly welcome Israeli support and military bases as well. Both parties would benefit and would feel more secure against the many threats in the region. Kurds and Jews are minorities in a region controlled by states that benefit from the destruction of other states. Kurds should no longer feel cautious to support Israel openly, after all it was not the Jews who killed thousands of Kurds since the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Diliman Abdulkader is a Research Associate at EMET

Originally published at NRT English


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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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